Last week we took a look at an upcoming game from The Iconfactory called Astronut [Free], a new “spinning disc jumping game” similar to Dizzypad [$1.99/HD] or Jump O'Clock [99¢] but with an element of gravity that affects the gameplay. Just a couple of days ago Astronut went live in the App Store, and so far I've been having a great time playing through the game. Even though this sort of game has been done before, Astronut does it with some interesting new twists and a lot of personality, and stands out as a unique take on the formula.
In Astronut you'll play as Jacques the astronaut as he explores 24 different levels, or systems, that are filled with various spinning planets. A button in the lower corner enables Jacques to leap from planet to planet. Every planet has its own force of gravity, and you can use this to actually slingshot yourself along in between them for an added score bonus. This is a really fun aspect to the game, and there's nothing like making a perfectly timed jump across a huge part of the level.
The planets themselves also offer their own set of nuances. They come in various sizes and can spin at differing speeds. There are regular planets which are safe to stand on as long as you like, giving you ample time to line up the perfect jump. Then there are hazardous planets that force you to act quickly before they bump you off or cause damage. The levels in Astronut have a beginning and ending, rather than being one long endless level like similar games.
Aside from just having fun jumping between the planets in Astronut, the main goal is to achieve a high score for each level. You do this by making extraordinary leaps between the planets, defeating enemies, and by collecting items. A number of different enemies will impede your path. In the opposite corner from the jump button is a boost button that allows you to shoot through enemies with a burst of speed, and you can also collect a temporary shield that will defeat any enemy you come into contact with while wearing. Collecting four star shards in a level unlocks a tilt-controlled rocket mini-game at the end of the level where you can earn even more bonus points.
Astronut looks fantastic visually, with charming character designs and Retina Display support for 4th generation devices. Strangely there's no in-game music, other than a spacey theme during the title screen, but all of the sound effects in the game are well done. Game Center is used for high score tracking and 40 achievements to unlock. The 24 levels are spread across 6 different sectors, with 4 levels per sector. Astronut is free to download and comes with the 4 levels of the first sector to play through, with the rest of the sectors unlockable through IAP for $1.99. There is a discussion of Astronut taking place in our forums, and seeing as it's free to try and a lot of fun, there's no reason not to check it out.
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